Published: Thu, March 09, 2017
Research | By Elizabeth Houston

Jeff Bezos' new rocket has its first customer

Jeff Bezos' new rocket has its first customer

The two-stage New Glenn variant will be capable of lofting about 50 tons (45 metric tons) to low Earth orbit and 14 tons (13 metric tons) to geostationary transfer orbit, Bezos said Tuesday (March 7) at the Satellite 2017 conference in Washington, D.C.

"We were impressed by Blue Origin's industrial approach and are always looking for innovation in the industry that facilitates cost-efficient access to space", said Eutelsat spokeswoman Vanessa O'Connor. According to the company, the new partnership with Blue Origin fits with its strategy to contract launch services from multiple providers in order to secure access to space and partner with launch providers that combine high levels of performance, flexibility and competitiveness.

Today, Blue Origin announces an even bigger, more ferocious step.

The rocket's inaugural trip is scheduled for 2021, giving Blue Origin a few years to flawless its reusable rocket technology.

Blue Origin will compete with SpaceX, as well as the United Launch Alliance owned by Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, Europe's Arianespace and other companies, for commercial satellite launch business.

Bezos tweeted another picture of the BE-4 engine being transported but did not say where it was being taken.

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Blue Origin also offered updates on the progress of its newest engine this week, the BE-4. Arianespace, a French company, has launched half of Eutelsat's satellites.

Once these two companies are able to produce these rockets, the era of heavy-lift rockets will be underway, and will not only lead to the launch of larger satellites, but could also help pave the way for future space exploration. This second stage will be powered by just one BE-4 engine.

The BE-4 and AR1 will employ a staged combustion cycle, a more efficient engine cycle than now available on other US liquid hydrocarbon rocket engines. The BE-4 engines will ultimately be bought off by ULA. Blue Origin has a long-term vision of greatly increasing the number of people that fly into space so that we humans can better continue exploring the solar system.

The animation shows what the landing of the booster stage of the rocket will look like at sea, with Bezos saying earlier that it is designed for up to 100 reuses.

Over the next few years, OneWeb is planning to send hundreds, and then thousands of small satellites into low Earth orbit. The New Glenn booster is expected to be compatible with virtually all Eutelsat spacecraft, providing flexibility to allocate the mission 12 months ahead of launch.

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